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EQC Under Scrutiny From Ombudsman

EQC Under Scrutiny From Ombudsman

Date: September 27, 2012

The Office of the Ombudsman says it is keeping a watching brief on the Earthquake Commission after complaints against the organisation increased steeply this year.

In its annual report tabled in Parliament today, the Ombudsmen say that in the 2011/12 year there were 389 Ombudsmen Act complaints and contacts received in relation to EQC, and 54 Official Information Act complaints. This compared to 72 Ombudsmen Act complaints in the previous year and five Official Information Act complaints.

Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem says that whilst a rise in complaints was expected given the large numbers of people in contact with the EQC as a consequence of the Canterbury earthquakes, the current increase is significant.
Delays and communications issues were the main areas of complaint as well as difficulties in getting information to enable timely decisions to be made about the future of people’s properties – whether to repair, or rebuild or abandon.
“People deserve to have their issues sorted out in an efficient and timely manner,” Dame Beverley says. “These are real people with real problems and resolution of their issues doesn’t seem to be moving fast enough for them.”
Dame Beverley says her office has taken steps to work with the Commission including training its staff and assisting it to develop an internal complaint handling service.

“It is pleasing to see that EQC has now also established a mediation service to resolve issues however, we are keeping a watching brief to determine whether it would be appropriate to take wider action in respect of delays in general.”
She says the Office of the Ombudsman is itself grappling with a growing workload but despite that it has made these complaints a priority because of the urgency required to help people in the region.
“It is important that people know that they can have recourse to this Office for assistance.”

The full report can be found on www.ombudsman.parliament.nz


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